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Ham Radio License Exam Study Resources

posted Oct 4, 2012, 3:12 PM by Charles Boling   [ updated Oct 12, 2020, 5:53 PM ]

There are many ways to learn about Amateur Radio and to prepare for the license exams.  Most people use more than one method.

  • Usually Paid
    • Buy a study book ($20-30)
  • Usually Free
    • Take a class (Find local classes on our event calendar taught by us or other groups)
    • Watch videos (ham study videos, not funny cat videos)
    • Download slide shows or printable study guides
    • Take practice tests

Below are links to resources to assist you in your efforts to study.

Tech Question Pool

Here is the official source of the current (2018-2022) question pool for the Technician Class exam. This version is easier on the eyes
Click here to see the previous (2014-2018) question pool.

Other Sites & Apps

There are many places on the Internet that contain material to help you prepare to pass your exam for any of the 3 license classes.  I will highlight a few of them here.  They are all free unless I state otherwise.

Practice Tests

  • (added Apr 2016) is a great free site that combines the advantages of several of the sites below (e.g. QRZ and HamTestOnline), and is now my top recommendation.  They are free to use and offer a more collaborative feel (with user-contributed explanations). (2018) They now also offer a $4 mobile app, allowing offline synchronization and supporting the free site.
  • allows you to easily take practice exams for all license classes, or to focus on particular sections that you may want more practice on.  It does require you to create a free account using a valid email address.  Before I discovered (Apr 2016), this was my preferred site.
  • also does, in a different format (looks more like a paper test), and doesn't require [free] registration like QRZ now does.
  • is yet another place to take tests, with a choice of two formats.
  • HamTestOnline is expensive at $25 (a demo is free, and sometimes they have sales), but some people swear by their method, where, not only do you have great control over the style of your practice, but by default it automatically drills you harder on the things you're not getting, and lets up on sections you've mastered.  They also offer the same system to study for the GROL (in beta? still free last time I checked).

Mobile Apps

Printed / offline materials

  • Surely someone offers a [preferably free] website that produces decent printed exams!  If you know of one, please let me know. The closest I've found is an unexciting service from DHF called the ARRL Exam Review for Ham Radio. The layout isn't terribly efficient (By default it's very large, requiring 10 pages, and when you scale it down, it doesn't adjust the text wrapping, so you get a skinny column down the middle of the page), but at least it doesn't break pages in the middle of a question and its answers.  Scaling to 80% will print 8 pages ( 4 double-sided sheets) including the answer key; 70% will take it down to 6 pages (3 sheets) without the answers.
  • If you're looking for printed study materials (both compact and not-so-compact), off-line slide shows, and other materials for both self-study and to help with putting on classes, a great place to find several good resources in one spot, look to K3DIO's collection at  It has a few goodies beyond the license study materials, and even has a section for the BSA Radio merit badge.
In the Technician_2014 section, some things I'd like to point out include
    • Downloading & reading "ReadMeFirst.doc" will save you the trouble of downloading everything just to figure out what you might want.
    • KB6NU's "No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Study Guide" covers material in a fairly logical order, not necessarily grouped the way the question pool is.  I sometimes use this 58-page book as a guide when I'm teaching electronics to my children, and it's good for self-study.
    • K3DIO's Slide Shows use colorful pictures to cover the material for the 10 question pool sections in a fixed order.  Good for public or private presentations.  It's available in two different ordering/grouping schemes:
      • 10 shows representing the official question pool sections (ARRL's preferred order)
      • 20 shows following the order of the W5YI/Gordon West study manual.
        • in fact, the slide set appears to be a modified copy of what W5YI makes available to instructors on their web site.

The Standard Books

Study books are published by the two biggest VECs (Volunteer Exam Coordinators):

  • ARRL, the U.S. amateur radio association, does a lot of everything. They publish books and magazines, they conduct equipment tests, they offer insurance, they lobby Congress on behalf of ham radio.  Their study materials, particularly the Tech Study Manual, are used by many people to study on their own or as part of a formal class.
  • W5YI is another popular source of study materials. Many people find Gordon West's layout and style to be easier than ARRL's.  They're also a little cheaper (their exam fees are also slightly lower than the ARRL's). Keep in mind, though, that ARRL uses some of that extra sales revenue to fund the lobbying and other services they provide to hams.


  • Prefer to sit and watch (or just listen to) videos for hours?  Try these:
  • Dave Casler, KE0OG gives you a personal introduction to The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual and takes you through it section-by-section in a series of close to 40 videos (up to 1280x720).
  • Andy Vallenga, KE4GKP, aka The Ham Whisperer, goes through all of the questions in the 35 subsections of the Technician exam question pool in a slideshow format (up to 480x360; a handfull in 640x480). As of Feb 2016, this has not been updated for the 2014 question pool.
Off-Internet: I also have these out-of-date (but still useful) resources that are available for loan:
  • Video (2003, 6.5 hrs): ARRL Technician Class Ham Radio License Training Video Course (produced by King Schools).
    "The videos include lively video instruction, presented in bite-sized segments, colorful graphics, animation & close up video."
  • Video (2003, 4.75 hrs): ARRL General Class Ham Radio License Training Video Course (Same folks).
  • Audio (2010, 4.25 hrs): Gordon West Ham Technician Audio Course 2010-2014

Practice Test Score Tracking Sheets

Attached to the bottom of this page is a spreadsheet file (OpenDocument format) that you can download, containing sheets that I've used for helping people who are studying for an exam. I haven't bothered with a fancy template; I just change the name and starting date as appropriate.  You may find it useful.  If you're having trouble changing it and want me to make you a custom sheet in PDF format, just ask!

One sheet simply lets you record your overall test scores so you can easily watch your improvement as you prepare for the big day.  Other sheets allow you to record what sub-categories you missed answers in, so you know where you need additional help.

Do you have a favorite Internet destination for ham radio study material?  Let us know in the comments!

Charles Boling,
Apr 14, 2016, 2:58 PM
Charles Boling,
Apr 14, 2016, 2:57 PM